BWW Interviews: Not Your Everyday George, David Darrow
David Darrow, with his curly hair tucked under a baseball cap, is sitting in the house of The Lab Theater, which is full of hanging light bulbs that when illuminated will resemble something of a star-filled sky. As we chat, I can't help but feel a teeny bit nervous. Only a few months ago my close friend and I sat ogling Darrow's shirtless physique (among the throngs of others) in the Guthrie's production of SKIING ON BROKEN GLASS. And sure, the play was somewhat lack luster---an opinion I still believe today---but his performance was fantastic and his body certainly made quite the impression. Now he's sitting right next to me and telling me all about the man behind the abs.
In reality, the 27-year-old, Jersey boy is actually quite relaxed---unlike his previous character---and basically just a normal, low-key guy who loves acting, owns a cat named Elvis (his old roommate owns a cat named Costello) and enjoys pizza and beer.
"Please tell me if this stuff is like so uninteresting and you have no material for this article right now," the actor says jokingly. In this theatre---a place where many actors have performed for packed houses---Darrow seems at home. It's almost funny to think that he was not always a man of this particular branch of performance but a trumpet player who one day realized he didn't like being in practice rooms. "One of my mentors was the director of a theatre program and so I started acting in straight plays," he explains. "I never really got along with the music kids but I loved the theatre kids."
It's about 30-minutes before he will dash away to begin preparing for the evening's performance and his role as the known but little known character of George Gibbs in Theater Latte Da's production of OUR TOWN. And although he's already reached the halfway point of the run and received plenty of great recognition for his portrayal, Darrow can still remember those first moments when receiving the role. "Peter asked me to do it out of the blue. I mean, I've worked with Peter several times and I was thrilled. Then I read it and immediately I was kind of terrified by certain parts of it," Darrow says. "But the parts I thought would be hard were not and the parts I thought would be easy weren't. It was the exact opposite."
On stage, Darrow and the entire cast deliver extraordinary performances in Thornton Wilder's OUR TOWN, the infamous play with music that dives into the lives of the people of Grover's Corners as they tackle life and all its challenges; from those first days of falling in love to confronting death. And while this play is indeed seventy-five-years-old, director Peter Rothstein brings together an exceptional group of multi-cultural performers that help bring a more contemporary feel to the production. Each performer offers something unique and charming to the show. Even the smallest and youngest of performers leave lasting impressions. From beginning to end, the production is tightly synchronized, as actors perform all the various sound effects---from chickens to trains---and play multiple characters from start to finish, moving around both the stage and the audience.
As the play's leading man, Darrow tackles the role of George with tenacity and honesty, resulting in moments that are heart-warming and real. At one point, he shares a very tender moment with little Natalie Tran, who plays his sister, which is very telling of the type of actor Darrow is and will always be. He gives so much, and in return receives just a much. With Darrow in the role, opposite Andrea San Miguel as Emily, George becomes the guy that will never hurt you intentionally, the guy you want to root for and the guy you want to fall in love with. And despite how others have approached the role, Darrow has given it a personal touch that is unique only to him.
"I heard a little bit of feedback from a couple people that George is usually played a little more arrogant. His major scene with Emily is in act two-it's the soda shop scene that everybody knows. Usually his response to being called arrogant and conceited to be arrogant and conceited and that makes sense on a certain level," Darrow says. "But there's not a ton of interaction between these two characters and we have to believe that they fall in love in the middle of this play. So it was interesting to me that all of these things he's saying are honest. That he really takes to heart what she says. I think that is a little bit different than how it's normally played."
The two of us have been chatting for a while now and at this point a majority of the cast has assembled in the theatre to "warm-up"---singing, stretching, shaking out that preshow energy, and other various activities---a ritual that Darrow doesn't always feel the need to indulge in. The conversation has trickled down, but Darrow has one last thing to say before we part ways. "I think this has been my favorite project that I've done since being in Minnesota. It's the most honest production and I hope people like it," he says.
And with that, it's time to leave. At this point, Darrow really does need to get ready. He gets up, shakes my hand one last time and asks me if I'm seeing the evening show. I am. He smiles, saying, "Oh, good! Well, I hope you enjoy it."
A few hours later, the show is over. Darrow and a few of his cast mates are clumped together singing an upbeat tune as patrons exit the space---just as they have for both intermissions and a good chunk of the preshow. For a brief second we lock eyes and share a glance. He looks at me. I look back at him. And in that second we both know, I enjoyed the show.
Theater Latte Da, 1170 15th Avenue SE, Minneapolis, 612.339.3003, theaterlatteda.com